4 out of 4 stars
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In the children’s illustrated book, You & Me & Allergies by Shelly Orloff, food allergies and environmental sensitivities are the focus of the read.
Young Jena has an issue that she has been dealing with for quite some time, and it causes her some frustration. She has celiac disease, and therefore cannot eat products that contain gluten. When she does, it truly upsets her stomach and causes her pain. It is only when she realizes that some of her classmates also have allergies and/or sensitivities that Jena begins to understand that she is not alone.
In any children’s book, the illustrations are the parts of the novel that is first looked at. A colorful, inviting set of pictures can affect whether children become interested in a story. I’m happy to say that the illustrations in You & Me & Allergies are very bright and inviting for the younger crowd. The expressions of each character can easily bring excitement to reading and becomes a central part of the story.
Throughout the book, the author mentions a number of allergies and/or medical issues that different characters experience. From using an EpiPen for a bee sting to utilizing an inhaler to having specific food allergies, children are introduced to a plethora of conditions that people face today. On the one hand, I thought it was great the author spoke about juvenile diabetes, celiac disease, and even mentions Crohn's disease. On the other hand, I wonder if mentioning so many conditions would be overwhelming for children as they read.
Themes of understanding, allergies, being sensitive to others’ needs, and finding positivity definitely fill the pages of You & Me & Allergies. The theme of helping each other is slightly brushed upon. Aside from Jena giving kisses to those who shared their allergies or medical conditions in her class, it wasn’t clear how others can help out. Perhaps the fact that she approaches them with a kiss is being helpful enough as she demonstrates her support.
Though I do feel there may be a bit too much information for children to process, the idea of having a story that highlights the struggles some people face is a very worthwhile read. Due to this and its bright illustrations, I give You & Me & Allergies a four out of four stars. Children from early to late elementary school would benefit and enjoy this illustrated read.
You & Me & Allergies
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